Tennessee Historical Commission votes to remove Nathan Bedford Forrest bust from State Capitol

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Historical Commission met Tuesday for a final hearing on the relocation of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s bust.

The commission voted 25-1 to relocate the bust from the State Capitol to the Tennessee State Museum

Tennessee governor wants Nathan Bedford Forrest bust moved to museum

The AP reported the committee said the museum is better equipped to provide the appropriate context for the bust.

The committee also stated that the interest of commemorating a long-dead historical figure was outweighed by the interest of thousands of citizens who find the commemoration hurtful.

Gov. Bill Lee thanked members of both the Capitol Commission and Historical Commission for taking up the issue and said the process of moving the bust should begin ”as soon as possible.”

It remains unclear how soon the removal will actually happen.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee sent a letter to members of the Commission in support of removing the bust.

The letter, signed by ACLU of Tennessee Executive Director Hedy Weinberg, reads in part:

“[T]he ACLU of Tennessee strongly urges the Tennessee Historical Commission to remove the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust from our state capitol.

“As a brutal architect of structural racism, Nathan Bedford Forrest represents the forces that undermine the basic framework of civil liberties and civil rights in the United States. Honoring him with a bust in our statehouse is antithetical to the values of decency, respect and equality that most Tennesseans share.

“What we choose to represent and honor in public spaces matters. When visitors to our state capitol are greeted by a monument to slavery and white supremacy, it sends a clear message that our government endorses the oppression and inequality that the bust represents. It is past time for the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust to be removed.

“Taking down Confederate monuments is not about erasing our history. It is about addressing a serious moral failing in our country by educating the public about our nation’s dark history of white supremacy and slavery. Telling the truth about our history is the only way to move forward.

“Removing the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest from the capitol would move us a step closer toward ensuring that the history we choose to celebrate and honor in our public spaces reflects respect and dignity for all Tennesseans.”